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The father always spoke with regret of the fact that his daughter had felt it her duty to become a missionary; and often, when giving an account of this trial, expressed the feeling that it was one of the heaviest which a parent could be called to endure.
O no,' said a friend, to whom he made this remark, on one occasion, 'I know you have been afflicted; but lightly, when your trials are compared with those of many.' “I doubt it,' answered Mr. Weldron.
Could you hear,' responded the other, the story of the sorrows of one whom I have known, you would adopt my sentiment.
Was there any thing in the history peculiarly interesting?' inquired Mr. Weldron.
• There was,' replied his friend ; the trials of my friend were such as seldom fall to the lot of mortals. If
desire to hear something of the history, I will give you an account of it.'
Mr. Weldron informed him that it would be interesting to listen to such a relation. As he heard the touching tale of the sorrows of Mrs. Jefford, he realized that his own affliction was light compared with hers. The reader will find this story in the next chapter.
Early Life of Mrs. Jefford — Frederic and Myra — Dereliction of Frederic Mr. Hilton - His kindness Power of temptation
- Frederic suddenly deserts his home and becomes deeply engaged in crime — Friends ignorant of his fate — Thrilling scene while on his last voyage - Frederic's repentance and confession — His execution Affecting scene at the home of his mother.
MRS. JEFFORD, a remote relative of the Weldron family, belonged to what is termed the middle class in society. Her parents were respectable, and much beloved in the circle in which they moved. Nothing remarkable occurred in their family during the youthful years of Mrs. Jefford.
If a description of her person is attempted, it must be said, that she was not handsome, nor even scarcely comely; but she was what is generally called a good, a very good girl. Almost every one who knew her, loved her; and it was often remarked that Myra Eldred (as her name was when a girl), had but one visible fault, which was a want of firmness. She was far too prone to yield her opinions and wishes to the opinions and wishes of others; and was often, by doing so, betrayed into great mistakes.
Soon after she attained the age of womanhood, she was settled in life, having become the companion of an intelligent and worthy gentleman. This couple commenced life in a pleasant town, situated in the smallest New England State ; and considered themselves happy, as well they might, for they were possessed of every necessary comfort. They were prospered, and had a sufficient means to relieve the wants of the needy, and cultivated a large benevolence. If they erred in this respect, it was because they were charitable to a fault. Of them it might with truth be said, they stopped not to ask the cause which made a fellow-being poor, —
• Or why he help demands ;'
for, to those of their minds,
• The voice of charity is kind ;
She thinketh nothing wrong ;
Nor vaunteth with her tongue.'
They had also another, and a far higher source of enjoyment. They had chosen, in early life, the God of their fathers to be their God, and their everlasting portion. Years passed quietly, and they had two lovely children, a son and daughter, upon whom they doted. The son, whose name was Frederic, was a bold, spirited, energetic boy. He was casily influenced either to do right or wrong; and, as he associated indiscriminately with the boys in the neighborhood in which he resided, was often led, by their influence and his daring disposition, to commit acts which caused his parents great pain.
After he had been guilty of some offence, his parents would forbid his mingling with pernicious society for some little time. But, after the lapse of a few days or weeks,
yielding too easily to his importunities and trusting to his promises, they would again withdraw their restraint, and he would thus be allowed the society of the vicious. The sin of Eli might justly be charged upon his parents. They very often said, “Why do ye so, my son ?' but had not
80 sufficient resolution to restrain him from evil.
As Frederic grew older, two traits were predominant in his character. One was a disposition to remember, with gratitude, kindnesses conferred upon him; the other was a proneness to indulge in the practice of cruelty. His sister, whose name was Myra, was one of the loveliest of girls, and was the delight of her parents. Her brother, too, loved her, and was proud of her. Unfortunately her health was naturally very feeble, and she could not, much of the time, enjoy those active amusements in which young people are wont to engage. Frederic deprecated this fact, as it abridged his pleasures.
Oh!' he would often say to his sister, when entreated by her to remain at home, if you were not always sick, I should take some comfort in staying at home; I should then seldom wish for any other society.'
It must be believed that he expressed his real feelings, when he made this assertion; and, doubtless, if his sister had been able to engage in amusements suited to his taste, it would have had a great tendency to bar those avenues to his heart, into which the baneful influence of the unprincipled found entrance, and dethroned his better feelings.
Some years ere he arrived at manhood, he was deprived by death of his father. The trial of his mother, on this
cf occasion, was enhanced by the waywardness of her son.
There was seldom an hour in which she did not feel anxious on his account. During the life of his father, he had several times been betrayed into the commission of petty, yet disgraceful offences; and after the death of that parent, as he scorned the restraint of his mother, she had reason to tremble lest the indulgence of the same disposition would lead him to commit greater crimes, as he advanced in years. Her fears were realized; and her heart ever after bled at the recollection of the course pursued by her first-born and dearly beloved child.
At the time Mr. Jefford died, Frederic was employed as a clerk in a mercantile house, where his activity and ability rendered him particularly serviceable. He might have continued to increase in usefulness and respectability, could he have been persuaded to abandon his wicked associates ; but this he could not be induced to do. The tears and entreaties of his mother and sister united, were unavailing in dissuading him from indulging in midnight revels, and other scenes of dissipation.
The dissolute are generally extravagant in their expenditures. This was particularly true of the dissipated circle in which Frederic moved. The waste of money they esteemed manliness, and scrupled not at the use of any means to procure it for their sinful purposes.
Mrs. Jefford afforded her son a liberal supply of pocketmoney, beside his wages, but this did not satisfy his ungenerous demands; he desired more. On one occasion, when his mother gently remonstrated with him, and a sense of atitude, which was never entirely extinct in his breast, was felt by him, he said, “Mother, I know you have been good to me, very good; you have been ever too indulgent ;